Around the Watershed: News and Events

Stream Snorkeling Returns!

Posted on: June 19th, 2019 by Leslie_Zucker

Snorkel in the Eso­pus Creek and dis­cover the under­wa­ter world of streams! Chil­dren at least 9 years old or enter­ing 4th grade and adult fam­ily mem­bers can attend a one-hour snor­kel­ing ses­sion in July, or a full day snor­kel­ing and stream study event in August. The July dates are Fri­day, July 12, 19, and 26 — reg­is­ter for one hour from 9:30–10:30 or 10:45–11:45. Attend a full-day of stream activ­i­ties from 9:30–4:00 on Fri­day, August 16.

All snor­kel­ing pro­grams are held at the Emer­son Resort & Spa, 5340 NY-28, Mt Trem­per, NY. All pro­grams are free for Ashokan Reser­voir water­shed res­i­dents (towns of Shan­daken, Olive, Wood­stock, and Hur­ley) and Emer­son Resort guests!

To reg­is­ter for a snor­kel­ing ses­sion in July, call the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram office at (845) 688‑3047 and ask for Linda. Reg­is­ter online for the all-day snor­kel­ing and stream stud­ies event on August 16 at: or call the stream pro­gram office.

Please remem­ber to bring a change of clothes, a swim suit, a towel and old sneak­ers or water shoes (no open-toed shoes) that can get wet. You should also bring sun screen and bug repel­lant if needed. Other wise, every­thing else will be provided.

The event is offered by Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County work­ing with the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram. See an infor­ma­tional video on the snor­kel­ing pro­gram at:

Stream Snorkeling in the Esopus Creek

Reg­is­ter now for stream snorkeling!

Flooding Happens: Understanding How Floods Happen and How to Be More Flood Resilient

Posted on: June 13th, 2019 by Brent Gotsch
Flooded Field Crops in Schoharie County, NY. Photo by FEMA.

Flooded Field Crops in Schoharie County, NY. Photo by FEMA.


Flood­ing hap­pens. In recent years, more fre­quent and more intense pre­cip­i­ta­tion events have been observed. This is espe­cially true in the NYC Water­shed area of Ulster County, which suf­fered dev­as­tat­ing dam­age dur­ing Trop­i­cal Storm Irene in 2011. If you own or rent land any­where in the county and are con­cerned about flood­ing, then join Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County (CCEUC) on Wednes­day, July 10 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Ulster County Fair­grounds (249 Lib­er­tyville Road, New Paltz) in the Youth Building.

Visit for reg­is­tra­tion and the most up-to-date infor­ma­tion. The cost is $20 per per­son. Lunch and trans­porta­tion to a farm visit will be provided.

Pre­sen­ters will dis­cuss flood­ing and its impacts on home prop­er­ties as well as agri­cul­tural land. Par­tic­i­pants will learn how to deter­mine if their prop­erty lies in a flood zone, what that means for their land or prop­erty, and pos­si­ble mit­i­ga­tion strate­gies. Ashokan water­shed res­i­dents con­cerned about pro­tect­ing their prop­er­ties from flood­ing will learn from regional experts in the field. The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Program’s Cer­ti­fied Flood­plain Man­ager, Brent Gotsch, will start off the pro­gram with an intro­duc­tion to deter­min­ing flood risk on your prop­erty and how to under­stand flood insur­ance rate maps and flood insur­ance studies.

The pro­gram, while applic­a­ble to those with gen­eral con­cerns about flood­ing, will have an agri­cul­tural focus. Many parcels in the Ashokan water­shed have been his­tor­i­cally used for agri­cul­ture and have the poten­tial to be used for agri­cul­ture again if proper plan­ning and land use con­sid­er­a­tions are taken.

For more infor­ma­tion, call Jim O’Connell at 340‑3990 ext. 390, ore­mail

Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County pro­vides equal pro­gram and employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties.  Please con­tact the office at 845–340-3990 if you have any spe­cial needs.

Another Successful Family Fun and Fish Day

Posted on: May 30th, 2019 by Brent Gotsch
Reeling in a fish at Family Fun and Fish Day 2019. Photo by Amanda Cabanillas.

Reel­ing in a fish at Fam­ily Fun and Fish Day 2019. Photo by Amanda Cabanillas.


AWSMP held another suc­cess­ful Fam­ily Fun and Fish Day on Sun­day, May 19 at Ken­neth Wil­son Camp­ground. AWSMP col­lab­o­rates each year with the New York State Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (NYSDEC) to allow par­tic­i­pants to fish with­out a fish­ing license. NYSDEC also pro­vides fish­ing poles, tackle, and bait to par­tic­i­pants. Vol­un­teers from the Catskill Moun­tain Chap­ter and Ashokan-Pepacton Chap­ter of Trout Unlim­ited attended and helped assist novice anglers with learn­ing how to prop­erly bait hooks, cast lines, and prop­erly release fish back into water. AWSMP staff pro­vided logis­ti­cal orga­ni­za­tion for the event and served a bar­be­cue lunch. The entire event was free of charge with the excep­tion of a nom­i­nal park­ing fee for the campground.

The event had 88 peo­ple attend, many of whom had never fished before. The weather held out and the fish were bit­ing with sev­eral peo­ple catch­ing a vari­ety of sun­fish. AWSMP would like to thank the staff of Ken­neth Wil­son Camp­ground as well as our friends from our local Trout Unlim­ited Chap­ters and NYSDEC for help­ing to put on a suc­cess­ful event. We can’t wait for next year!


Catching a sunfish at Family Fun and Fish Day 2019. Photo by Ed Ostapczuk.

Catch­ing a sun­fish at Fam­ily Fun and Fish Day 2019. Photo by Ed Ostapczuk.


When 1-in-100 Year Floods Happen Often

Posted on: May 9th, 2019 by Leslie_Zucker

The “100-year flood” can hap­pen a lot more often than every 100 years. National Pub­lic Radio (NPR) just tried to clear up the con­fu­sion — lis­ten or read the story here. Many peo­ple assume if they’ve expe­ri­enced a 100-year flood it won’t hap­pen again for another 99 years, but this is not the case. The term “1-in-100 year flood” means there is a 1% chance a flood will hap­pen each year. If it hap­pens this year, there is still a 1% chance it will hap­pen next year. Also, every other sized flood could hap­pen in a year, they are just more or less likely.

The hundred-year flood term was adopted by FEMA to des­ig­nate a zone where flood insur­ance is required with a fed­er­ally backed mort­gage. The 100-year flood­plain is an area where flood risk is higher, but it’s not the only tool, and maybe not the best way to deter­mine your flood risk. It’s bet­ter to think in longer timeframes.

As the NPR story states, it’s bet­ter to know this fact — there is a 26% chance the 100-year flood will hap­pen over the course of a 30-year mort­gage. If you live your entire life in the flood zone, you are likely to expe­ri­ence a big flood.

Trout Love in the Spring — What is a “Redd”?

Posted on: May 2nd, 2019 by Leslie_Zucker

The wild Rain­bow Trout of the upper Eso­pus Creek are now spawn­ing – it’s spring! Here are the mechan­ics: a female trout digs a depres­sion in the gravel with her tail called a “redd.” She deposits the eggs and waits for a male trout to fer­til­ize them, then she cov­ers the eggs with loose gravel. They both swim away leav­ing the eggs shel­tered (unlike salmon, trout don’t die after spawn­ing). Rain­bow Trout spawn in late spring until tem­per­a­tures start to rise. Brown Trout and Brook Trout spawn in the fall.

A spe­cial note to anglers and any­one wad­ing streams this spring – be mind­ful of redds and don’t dis­turb them.

A redd should appear like a depres­sion with clean gravel inside, and may be lighter or darker than the sur­round­ing gravel (see the pho­tos below). Don’t walk through them and be care­ful where you wade. Redds in the upper Eso­pus Creek are often observed in the “tai­lout” of a pool.

In the par­lance of geo­mor­phol­ogy, this stream bed fea­ture is called a “glide.” Glides are where the steeply sloped bed ris­ing out of a pool becomes flat­ter and water veloc­ity increases. Glides are located imme­di­ately down­stream of pools.

Rainbow Trout Redd

Rain­bow Trout redd in the Bush­nellsville Creek, May 2018. Photo by Ed Ostapczuk.

Rainbow Trout Redd

Rain­bow Trout redd observed in a trib­u­tary to the upper Eso­pus Creek, April 2019. Photo by Ed Ostapczuk.

Glide with Rainbow Trout Redd

Loca­tion of the redd above in tai­lout of a pool. Photo by Ed Ostapczuk.

Register for Family Fun and Fish Day!

Posted on: May 2nd, 2019 by Brent Gotsch
Learning to fish at Family Fun and Fish Day

Learn­ing to fish at Fam­ily Fun and Fish Day.

This is event is now FULL! Thank you for your inter­est in this year’s Fam­ily Fun and Fish Day!

Fish­ing with the fam­ily is a great way to con­nect with each other and expe­ri­ence the great out­doors! Back by pop­u­lar demand for the 7th year in a row, the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram in coop­er­a­tion with Trout Unlim­ited and the New York State Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (DEC) is host­ing “Fam­ily Fun and Fish Day” at Ken­neth Wil­son State Camp­ground at 859 Wit­ten­berg Road, Mount Trem­per, NY on Sun­day, May 19 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Reg­is­ter by May 16, 2019 in order to par­tic­i­pate. Reg­is­ter online now by vis­it­ing the reg­is­tra­tion page.

DEC fish­eries staff and vol­un­teers with local Trout Unlim­ited chap­ters will intro­duce youth and oth­ers to the sport of fish­ing and pro­vide edu­ca­tion on fish iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and aquatic ecol­ogy. Other fam­ily friendly activ­i­ties include a bar­beque, arts and crafts, and edu­ca­tional activ­i­ties under the pavil­ion. Please let us know in advance if you have spe­cial needs related to the day’s activities.

All fish­ing sup­plies will be pro­vided, though you are wel­come to bring your own if you have them. No fish­ing license is required.

For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact Brent Gotsch at 845–688-3047 ext. 3, or by email at DEC charges a $6 fee per car for admis­sion to the camp­ground — all other activ­i­ties at Fam­ily Fun and Fish Day are free.

Girl Scouts Expand Stream Buffer

Posted on: May 1st, 2019 by Leslie_Zucker

The Catskill Streams Buffer Ini­tia­tive Pro­gram (CSBI) worked with the Ashokan Ser­vice Unit Girl Scouts to expand a stream buffer at the Catskill Inter­pre­tive Cen­ter (CIC) in Mt. Trem­per last week­end. These scouts were hard core planters and put 45 native trees and shrubs and 100 bare root plants in the ground. About 23 scouts cut 30 dog­wood stems and processed them into 100 live stakes for use on other project sites. They pot­ted up 50 peren­nial bulbs to be used in the CIC’s rain gar­den this fall. In addi­tion, the rain gar­den was weeded and inva­sive plants removed. Many of the scouts were stu­dents in the Onte­ora School Dis­trict while oth­ers were from the Hud­son Val­ley. The scouts were helped by Ulster County Soil & Water Con­ser­va­tion District’s CSBI Coor­di­na­tor Bobby Tay­lor and 12 par­ents and scout lead­ers. Way to go girl scouts keep­ing streams healthy!

Cutting a Live Stake

CSBI Coor­di­na­tor Bobby Tay­lor demon­strates how to cut a live stake.

Girl Scouts Planting Stream Buffer

Ashokan Ser­vice Unit Girl Scouts expand a stream buffer at the Catskill Inter­pre­tive Center.

Join the Phoenicia Library for ‘The Adventure Experts’

Posted on: May 1st, 2019 by Leslie_Zucker

Join the Phoeni­cia Library’s Jerry Bartlett Angling Col­lec­tion for a pro­gram led by licensed out­door guides on Sat­ur­day, May 11 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at the Phoeni­cia Library. Pan­elists will include Will Soter, co-founder of Upstate Adven­ture Guides; Hank Rope, leg­endary guide in the Catskill Region and owner of Big Indian Guide Ser­vice; Cliff Schwark, a life­long angler and founder of the Ashokan Pepacton Chap­ter of Trout Unlim­ited; and Patty Rudge, the first woman to serve as a full-time NYS For­est Ranger. Pan­elists will talk about the his­tory of guid­ing, what it takes to be a guide, how to choose one, and how to get licensed. The role of guides in edu­cat­ing clients about Catskill streams will also be dis­cussed. This pro­gram is funded by the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram through a grant to the library.  For more infor­ma­tion, visit:

Elevation and Floodproofing Workshop Advances Flood Mitigation

Posted on: April 12th, 2019 by Brent Gotsch
A workshop participant observes an engineered flood vent at the Elevation and Floodproofing Workshop held on March 26 and 27, 2019. Photo by Tim Koch.

A work­shop par­tic­i­pant observes an engi­neered flood vent at the Ele­va­tion and Flood­proof­ing Work­shop held on March 26 and 27, 2019. Photo by Tim Koch.


Poten­tially thou­sands of struc­tures across the NYC West of Hud­son Water­shed are located within mapped FEMA flood­plains. Many are located in down­town ham­let areas and are vital to the local econ­omy. More intense flood events and ris­ing flood insur­ance rates are threat­en­ing these struc­tures and the com­mu­ni­ties that rely on them for tax base, habi­ta­tion, eco­nomic activ­ity, and sense of place.

Prop­erty own­ers in flood zones are advised to reduce their flood risks and take action. A range of risk reduc­tion mea­sures are being tested and imple­mented across the coun­try. The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram brought speak­ers with national exper­tise to the region on March 26 and 27 to deliver a work­shop for local offi­cials to learn more about ele­va­tion and flood­proof­ing of struc­tures. The work­shop was held at the Emer­son Inn in Mount Trem­per and attended by nearly 50 build­ing depart­ment and other offi­cials from Ulster, Greene, Sul­li­van, and Delaware counties.

The work­shop fea­tured pre­sen­ters from Ducky John­son Home Ele­va­tions out of Hara­han, LA, and con­sul­tants recently retired from the NYS Dept. of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion and the U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers.

“Every dol­lar spent on mit­i­ga­tion saves six dol­lars in recov­ery costs,” said Rod Scott of Ducky John­son. “Ele­va­tion and dry flood proof­ing are proven flood haz­ard mit­i­ga­tion tech­niques used to reduce flood risk and flood insur­ance pre­mi­ums,” he said.

In the 2018 hur­ri­cane sea­son alone, U.S. ter­ri­to­ries expe­ri­enced 15 storms and 8 hur­ri­canes respon­si­ble for $50 bil­lion in dam­age. In response to this “new nor­mal” of bil­lions in annual losses due to prop­erty dam­age, Con­gress has man­dated flood insur­ance rate hikes for struc­tures with mort­gages in the FEMA floodplain.

“Ele­vat­ing or flood­proof­ing struc­tures pro­vides a way for com­mu­ni­ties to keep their build­ing stock, and their tax base sta­ble while also decreas­ing flood insur­ance pre­mi­ums for the own­ers and less­en­ing their risk of flood-related dam­age,” said Brent Gotsch, Resource Edu­ca­tor for Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County and orga­nizer of the work­shop. “With increas­ing pre­cip­i­ta­tion pat­terns and more dam­ag­ing flood events, it’s vital that com­mu­ni­ties con­sider using these meth­ods to adapt and become more resilient,” he added.

Elevation and Floodprooging Workshop participants view an elevated home in Mount Tremper, NY. Photo by Brent Gotsch

Ele­va­tion and Flood­proof­ing Work­shop par­tic­i­pants view an ele­vated home in Mount Trem­per, NY. Photo by Brent Gotsch


Dur­ing the work­shop, local code offi­cials learned the dif­fer­ences between wet and dry flood­proof­ing and effec­tive ele­va­tion meth­ods for struc­tures. They learned how these prac­tices change flood insur­ance pre­mi­ums and how sim­ple mea­sures such as filling-in a base­ment can reduce pre­mi­ums by hun­dreds or even thou­sands of dollars.

A bus tour showed par­tic­i­pants local exam­ples of struc­tures retro­fit­ted with ele­va­tion and flood­proof­ing mea­sures. At one prop­erty, water­tight shields were installed to pre­vent water from flow­ing into the liv­ing area. Another stop fea­tured a res­i­dence with engi­neered “smart vents” that allow water to safely flow under­neath the structure’s first floor and equal­ize poten­tially dan­ger­ous pres­sures that could buckle the foundation.

At the end of the work­shop, local offi­cials left with increased knowl­edge about how to prop­erly retro­fit flood­prone struc­tures. Going for­ward, county part­ners plan to work with local munic­i­pal­i­ties to iden­tify and access fund­ing for ele­va­tion and flood­proof­ing projects and min­i­mize costs to prop­erty owners.

Addi­tional pre­sen­ta­tions by the Catskill Water­shed Cor­po­ra­tion, the NYS Divi­sion of Home­land Secu­rity and Emer­gency Ser­vices, and FEMA informed par­tic­i­pants about poten­tial fund­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for ele­va­tion and flood­proof­ing projects. Pre­sen­ters walked through the appli­ca­tion process and gave advice on how to cre­ate a strong application.

Fund­ing for the work­shop was pro­vided by the New York City Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion.

A manager of a local bank branch shows Elevation and Floodproofing Workshop participants how they install the floodproofing barriers. Photo by Tim Koch.

The man­ager of a local bank branch shows Ele­va­tion and Flood­proof­ing Work­shop par­tic­i­pants how they install flood­proof­ing bar­ri­ers. Photo by Tim Koch.

Help Restore a Stream for Earth Day

Posted on: April 1st, 2019 by Leslie_Zucker

Trout Unlim­ited is look­ing for vol­un­teers to help plant trees for Earth Day.

The plant­ing will help to restore a dam­aged sec­tion of Wood­land Val­ley Creek, where a large stream restora­tion project was com­pleted by the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram in 2018. The Catskill Moun­tains Chap­ter of Trout Unlim­ited (CMTU) is orga­niz­ing the tree plant­ing project along Wood­land Val­ley Road on Sat­ur­day, April 27, the Sat­ur­day after Earth Day.

When: Sat­ur­day, April 27, 2019

Time: 10:00AM – 2:00PM

Where: Meet at the junc­tion of Wilmont Way and Wood­land Val­ley Road in Phoeni­cia, NY, just past Wood­land Val­ley Campground.

Con­tact #: 845–802-3861 (Andrew Higgins)

Please Reg­is­ter Online (free):

We will be plant­ing native trees and shrubs along Wood­land Val­ley Creek, an impor­tant spawn­ing stream for brook, brown, and rain­bow trout. The plant­ing will help sta­bi­lize the stream­bank along the creek to reduce ero­sion, con­trol flood­ing, and pro­vide shade to keep the water cold and clean!

We are look­ing for at least a dozen vol­un­teers to help. You are not required to be a Trout Unlim­ited member.

Jobs include: coor­di­nat­ing vol­un­teers, plant­ing trees, water­ing, reg­is­tra­tion table. Please con­sider tak­ing one day out of the year to help ful­fill the mis­sion of Trout Unlimited.

Please join us and bring a friend. At the end of the plant­ing, CMTU will pro­vide pizza and drinks for all volunteers!

For more infor­ma­tion see the chap­ter web site OR con­tact: